Today, the 2nd of April, marks the First Anniversary of the devastating tsunami that struck the Provinces of Western, Choiseul and Shortland. 52 lives were lost during the disaster and hundreds more were left displaced.The International Community responded generously barely hours after the tsunami struck. Millions of dollars were poured into the country to help in the rebuilding of the lives and communities of those worst affected.
Although there have been many achievements in the initial response to the humanitarian aspect of the tsunami disaster, some critics say the re-building has been too slow. Many have complained that bureaucratic hurdles have stalled the rebuilding process.
In part, the problem may have been the sheer scale of the catastrophe. The first priority was getting food and basic shelter to survivors and preventing disease. This may have been the relatively more successful part of the post tsunami operation.
However, the growing frustration points up what has been a recurring theme: grandiose promises from the government, that may have been made to lift the public's morale, which soon proved unrealistic.
"I only heard about plans to re-build parts of the Gizo town...it sounded great," said a former resident of Gizo who now lives in Honiara. "I'm not sure what's going on. Many of my neighbors, who still live in the hills, are quite frustrated...not seeing results."
There are plans to hold a memorial service to mark the first anniversary of the tsunami disaster in the Western Province. While such symbolism is good, substance is better. Victims are still holding on to the Governments promise of new homes, new hospitals and new roads. The Sikua led government has also promised SBD$15 Million dollars, what exactly that money is for is yet to be seen.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is important that, in future, the handlings of such large-scale relief projects are done in a transparent and accountable manner. The fact that many of those affected are still in make shift tents does raise many questions, questions that these victims have the right to know.